February 21, 2008
Some readers of this blog may have already read my article “The Two Witnesses” available for free at this website. This blog will add new material to what was in that previous article on this subject. If you have not read yet my article about the two witnesses, I urge you to do so as this material will be understood in a better context.
In that article, I examined several biblical precedents which could give us more information about the lives, backgrounds and ministries of these end-time prophets who have not yet arrived on the scene. Revelation 11’s prophecy about the two witnesses clearly shows they will have some historical precedents in the lives of Joshua and Zerubbabel (compare Revelation 11:4 with Zechariah 4). Malachi 4:5-6 prophesies an end-time ministry will come which is likened to that of the prophet Elijah. Elijah and Elisha were another powerful twosome of prophets as were Moses and Aaron. These comparisons are examined in detail in my article so I won’t duplicate the material here. There is another biblical “twosome” which came to my mind the other day, but first let’s consider one of our assumptions about the two witnesses.
I think Christians generally assume that the two witnesses will always be together as a twosome preaching powerfully around the world together. This certainly is a possibility, but the Bible doesn’t prophesy that this has to happen. Revelation 11 certainly prophesies that they will be concurrent prophets, but the only time the Bible specifically places them together is when they die at the same time in Jerusalem after a three and 1/2 year ministry. (Revelation 11:7-8). The two witnesses may be together the entire three and 1/2 years, they may be together occasionally during that time or they may be together only at the end of their concurrent ministries. It seems logical to me that they would be together a great deal of the time, but that is my assumption. I wanted to share these possibilities with you so we consider them all before they arrive on the scene. The “beast and false prophet” will be a deceptive but evil twosome in the latter days, and the two witnesses will be God’s “twosome” in the latter days. We want to know all we can about them as Christians are warned that the deceptions extant in the latter days will be so powerful that even the “very elect” would be deceived if it were possible (Matthew 24:24). Both twosomes will be doing miracles (Matthew 24:24 and Revelation 11:5-6) so we all need to be forewarned in order to tell them apart. Revelation 12:9 prophesies Satan will succeed in deceiving the whole world at the end of the age, so there will be many who will think they understand what is going on but they will actually be deceived (I Corinthians 10:11-12).
There will be a very clear way to tell which twosome is from God and which one isn’t. Those who base their judgment on the Bible will understand the difference. Those who base their decision on emotion or who don’t know about the Bible will surely be deceived. The beast and false prophet will be allied to the most powerful, capable, and deceptive “spin doctor” on the planet: Satan. Satan will energize their miracles and wonders, but II Thessalonians 2:9 indicates that some of their wonders will be “lying wonders.” The final world system will be able to pull off some spectacular deceptions with “smoke and mirror” high-tech trickery. However, the big difference is that Satan’s twosome will defend, support and encourage everyone to give mass allegiance to the global world system called “Babylon the Great” in Revelation 18. The two witnesses will plague the world system and the nations in it (Revelation 11:6). Indeed, the two witnesses will cause so much pain and suffering to the idolatrous nations and those loyal to it that the world will rejoice and celebrate when God’s two witnesses are slain by Satan’s twosome (Revelation 11:7-10). This is another clear marker as to which twosome is really from God. God’s two witnesses will be martyred; Satan’s twosome will not be martyred. God’s two witnesses will also be resurrected three and 1/2 days after they are slain and this will be witnessed by mankind (Revelation 11:12). In an age of live TV and live webcams, this will be seen all over the world. When they are resurrected, it will be the time of the resurrection of all the dead saints and the departure of those believers who are still alive at that moment (I Corinthians 15:51-53, I Thessalonians 4:15).
Now let’s consider another possible precedent for the two witnesses in another biblical twosome: Paul and Barnabas. They were both apostles who ministered for a time together as a powerful twosome doing miracles in Christ’s name (Acts 14:3-12). However, after a time, they had a sharp disagreement and carried on their ministries apart from each other (Acts 5:36-41). Interestingly, Paul and Barnabas each had a close associate and they formed two twosomes. Paul and Silas were one twosome and Barnabas and John Mark became the other twosome. God worked through both of them even though they could not at that time work together! I’m not “prophesying” that this will occur in the ministry of the two witnesses (I rather doubt it will), but this does give us another biblical “twosome” to consider. It does contain the precedent that God’s prophetic twosomes can disagree and be together for part of the time and be apart for part of the time.
Let’s consider one other factor that I did not examine in my previous article on the two witnesses. That is the extent to which the two witnesses will be involved in world politics. Obviously, they will be very involved in world politics if they are plaguing the nations! They will be world figures, but very unpopular with much of the world. Let’s look at previous biblical twosomes for more possible clues about what these final two prophets might be doing. Moses and Aaron, one of the twosomes examined in my article, were also heavily involved in the politics of Egypt, a world empire at that time. Like the two witnesses, their role was to plague that earthly government. Moses had extensive previous experience in the very government that he later afflicted as Moses had been raised in Pharaoh’s court. Aaron apparently had no previous political experience. Will this aspect be paralleled in the final two witnesses? We don’t know. We are simply considering possibilities based on how God has empowered and called previous prophetic twosomes. Elijah and Elisha were both involved in the state politics of the northern kingdom of Israel. Elijah was an especially troublesome thorn in the sides of the wicked “twosome” couple of Ahab and Jezebel. Elijah plagued Israel with a three and 1/2 year drought, and the king of Israel sent ambassadors to search for Elijah in all the kingdoms of the earth (I Kings 18:10). Elijah also called fire down on the soldiers of King Ahaziah of Israel and incinerated them (II Kings 1). This sounds a lot like what the two witnesses will do in Revelation 11:5-6. Elijah was also sent by God to anoint new kings over Israel and Syria, a non-Israelite nation. Elijah also “spoke truth to power” when he was in Ahab’s presence (I Kings 21:17-26). The two witnesses are very likely to do the same thing. Elijah also spent part of his ministry in hiding (I Kings 17) and he experienced at least one bout of very deep depression during his ministry (I Kings 19:1-18) in which he asked God to let him die rather than continue his ministry (verse 4). This episode indicates that it is not always a “bowl of cherries” to be called as a prophet.
Elisha, Elijah’s protÃ©gÃ©, also was closely involved with the politics of his time. However, Elisha actually helped the weakened kings of Israel against their enemies. In II Kings 6:9-12, Elisha gave the king of Israel divine counsel about enemy troop deployments to give Israel victory over its enemies. In II Kings 6:13-23, Elisha wielded God’s power to smite an entire enemy army with blindness in order to protect the nation of Israel, and the king of Israel acted on Elisha’s counsels. During a later siege of Samaria, Elisha was in consultation with the leaders of Israel (II Kings 6:24-7:20), and prophesied a divine intervention to rescue Israel which came to pass. Strangely, we almost see a “good cop, bad cop” act in the Elijah-Elisha twosome. Elijah plagued Israel and then Elisha protected Israel. Elisha even went to an enemy nation and was involved with the politics of the Syrian government in Damascus and healed a Syrian general (II Kings 8:7-15 and II Kings 5).
We do not know what aspects of the ministries of Elijah or Elisha might be replicated in the ministries of the two witnesses, but these examples are given for your consideration as the future brings these two witnesses on the world scene. It is not “for sure” that they will always plague all the nations. They might give help to some nations and wise counsel to their leaders, if the example of Elisha becomes a precedent.
What might determine which nations or regions of the earth get plagued by the two witnesses? Let’s consider a historical parallel. Elijah was furious at Israel for its idolatry which included the Baal-worship brought to Israel by Queen Jezebel. Baal-worship included grisly rites of infant-sacrifice, which was convenient as its fertility rites encouraged sexual promiscuity and, no doubt, caused a lot of unwanted pregnancies. Does this sound familiar to modern times? Consider the rampant immorality in modern western societies which produces millions of unwanted pregnancies. Conveniently, our societies have arranged for the murder of millions of unwanted infants via legalized abortion. Perhaps the two witnesses will plague those nations, states or cities which are most pro-abortion? Perhaps they will also plague other cities or locations which encourage other forms of immorality and idolatry. Revelation 11:6 prophesies that the two witnesses will dispense plagues “as often as they will” so they will have carte blanche authority from God to punish whoever they want in whatever way they want to do so. It won’t be hard for Christians anchored in the Bible to recognize them as the two witnesses, but everyone else on the world will simply hate them. The beast and false prophet will likely be ushering in a world system which will be secular, globalist and opposed to biblical Christianity as being not “inclusive” or “tolerant” enough of other faiths and lifestyles. Based on the precedents in Elijah’s life, I can tell you one piece of advise for sure. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere close to an abortion clinic when these two prophets come on the scene with the power to plague whoever, wherever, and whatever they want. Those who have sowed evil will reap the consequences of their actions.